Abdominal adiposity, including visceral and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (VAT and SAT), is recognized as a strong risk factor for cardiometabolic disease, cancer, and mortality.
The primary aim of this analysis is to describe longitudinal patterns of change in abdominal adipose tissue in postmenopausal women, overall and stratified by age, race/ethnicity, and years since menopause.
The data are from six years of follow up on 10,184 postmenopausal women (7828 non-Hispanic White women, 1423 non-Hispanic Black women, and 703 Hispanic women) who participated in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI). The WHI is a large prospective cohort study of postmenopausal women across the United States. All participants in this analysis had DXA scans in the 1990s as part of the WHI protocol. Hologic APEX software was used to re-analyze archived DXA scans and obtain measures of abdominal adipose tissue. Analyses examined differences in abdominal adipose tissue, overall adiposity, and anthropometric variables.
There were important differences in VAT and SAT by age and race/ethnicity. In women <60 years, VAT increased over the follow-up period, while in women ≥70 years, VAT decreased. Non-Hispanic Black women had the highest levels of SAT. Hispanic women had the highest VAT levels. Women more than ten years since menopause had less SAT and more VAT than women less than ten years since menopause, resulting in a higher VAT/SAT ratio. There was a moderate to strong correlation between measures of abdominal adipose tissue and anthropometric measurements of body size. Still, there were substantial differences in the quantity of VAT and SAT within BMI and waist circumference categories.
These results demonstrate differences in VAT and SAT according to age, race/ethnicity, time since menopause, and compared to standard measures of body composition in a large and diverse cohort of postmenopausal women.

© 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.